Improve performance of Windows Remote Desktop

While I’ve typically done a fair amount of remote work, we’ve all been doing even more this year. One thing that I find myself doing more and more often is remoting into a Windows 10 desktop in the office from home using Remote Desktop (RDP). While servers are tuned by default for RDP to be fairly performant, the extra visual stuff of Windows 10 tends to make this laggy, to the point of being frustrating – even with a fairly decent connection.

However, a simple tweak on the remote system makes this much more tolerable. This is an old trick, from the days when we really had to worry about bandwidth, but it really helps with Windows 10’s extras which don’t translate well remotely.

On the remote system (you can do this via RDP, you don’t need to be physically at the system):

  1. Launch the Run dialog box by pressing the Window key + R or by right-clicking on the Start menu and clicking Run.
  2. In the Run dialog box, type “sysdm.cpl” and click Ok. The System Properties window will open.
    There are other ways to get to the System Properties window, but this is probably the quickest in current versions of Windows 10.
  3. Depending on your system configuration, you may receive a prompt to elevate to admin privileges – accept this prompt.
  4. Click the Advanced tab.
  5. Under Performance, click the Settings button.
  6. Click Adjust for best performance (this quickly unchecks all of the settings below).
  7. In the list of settings, check Smooth edges of screen fonts and click Ok.
    Trust me, this is one setting you’ll want enabled.
  8. Click Ok to close the System Properties window.

With the settings tuned to “best performance,” the visual niceties will be dialed down, which will make things like switching between apps, moving and resizing windows, and other tasks noticeably quicker.

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